People did open up to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at the start of its ‘Bolda Punjab’ dialogue series on Saturday at Landran in this district. A woman even asked its leaders: “I lost my husband at 33 and now I want to save my two sons from drugs. Can you help?”
Youth was the first segment of society to give the party inputs for the 2017 assembly election manifesto. With drug addiction a menace among them in the state and unemployment chronic, the two questions dominated the first interaction in the campaign seen as antidote to the Congress drive of ‘Coffee with Captain’.
A young man referred to an “open nexus between politicians and drug suppliers” and asked the AAP leaders: “How will you counter this problem?” “In name of drug awareness, nothing is done beyond holding a few seminars. There is no proper rehabilitation programme for addicts,” said another participant.
AAP leader Ashish Khetan said police were going after only small addicts and not big drug suppliers. “If we are voted to power, we’ll put the drug lords into jail within three months; and rope in private hospitals for the rehabilitation of drug-addicts.” he said. False cases against youth was another issue highlighted. The party promised a commission to review these cases and hold police officers accountable on getting the mandate.
“Job opportunities in Punjab are limited because there is no new industry,” said a young man. Another complained of repeated assaults on linemen, teachers, anganwari workers and others at Akali-BJP rallies. Senior journalist and dialogue head Kanwar Sandhu assured them of solutions subject to AAP’s winning the polls.
There is no job survey conducted after 1978, and no link between industry and education, said Sandhu. “The party will lay focus on self-employment training to youth and upgrade small-scale industry to promote entrepreneurship,” said Khetan, promising efforts to reopen the closed industrial units. He proposed Delhi model in Punjab to fight corruption and improve education. “Education loans will cost less and payback will start after job,” said Khetan.